TONTON ASTRO AWANI

PENGUNJUNG SETIA

02 Julai 2009

THE THORN IN THE DURIAN SELLERS' SIDES

THE king of fruits in Johor is facing a glut this year with some cloned varieties going as cheap as RM5 per kg. The exceptionally hot weather since May has contributed to a bountiful harvest in almost every orchard, particularly in Muar, Ledang and Segamat.
The durian season this year is expected to last until the end of July. — Pictures by Sim Bak Heng
The durian season this year is expected to last until the end of July. — Pictures by Sim Bak Heng
Makeshift stalls selling durian along the Muar-Buloh Kasap trunk road.
Makeshift stalls selling durian along the Muar-Buloh Kasap trunk road.

Consumers stand to gain from the glut as they can have their pick at bargain prices.
Consumers stand to gain from the glut as they can have their pick at bargain prices.

This Kunyit variety can still fetch RM15 a kg as durian connoisseurs are willing to pay good money for premium durian.
This Kunyit variety can still fetch RM15 a kg as durian connoisseurs are willing to pay good money for premium durian.

The season usually peaks in June and is expected to last until the end of July.

Many durian traders, some who are also farmers, have set up makeshift stalls along the trunk road from Muar to Buloh Kasap in Segamat, which are open from 7am to 7pm daily.

Consumers stand to gain the most from the glut as they can get the best quality fruit at a low price.

Lim See Yong, 40, who operates a stall at Kampung Teratai in Jementah, Segamat, said all his durian orchards are bearing more fruits this year.

"The price is getting lower by the day since I set up my stall. I expect the downward trend to last till mid-July.

"With about 30 stalls along the Tangkak-Segamat stretch, the prices are very competitive. We are slashing our prices because durian are perishables and cannot last more than two days," said Lim.

Workers have to be on standby in orchards in the wee hours of the morning as the durian usually drop between 2am and 3am.

The fruits are piled up near the rest huts and packed in baskets for distribution to stalls.

Kampung durian were initially sold at RM3 a kg in May but now, the price has gone down to between RM1 and RM3.

Some traders sell not by the weight but by the number of fruits, which is an indication of a glut.

For cloned durian, the price has dipped from RM8 a kg to RM5, depending on the variety.

The popular cloned varieties are D24, Udang Merah, XO, 101, D13, Kasap Merah and Raja Kucing.

Some premier durian such as the Kunyit and Kim Hong varieties still fetch a good price at RM15 a kg.

Despite the exorbitant price, the premier varieties always have a ready market. Durian connoisseurs and the well-heeled are more than willing to pay good money for good durian.

Some of the durian in Johor are sent to Kuala Lumpur, the East Coast and Singapore.

Lim said there were more cloned durian these days as most farmers had chopped down kampung durian trees to plant rubber.

"About half of my stock is cloned durian," he said.

Another seller, Mohd Hafiz Nazaruddin of Segamat, said he sold more kampung durian from his farms in Jementah.

He said there is still a market for kampung durian because of their original flavour and fragrance.

"For people making dodol and lempok, they still have to use kampung durian," he said.

But Hafiz agreed that there are less kampung durian these days as many farmers had replaced their kampung durian trees with rubber trees.

SOURCE: JOHOR STREETS, NST, 2 JULY 2009

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